A few people in Ontario will tell you that the best way to deal with chronic pain is to get up and dance.
Part of research project that includes dancing is a form of wellness therapy, the patients say their quality of life has greatly improved.
Susan Cleaver says she was unable to walk due to inflammatory joint disease before starting the weekly classes 10 weeks ago.
“I am moving a lot more freely and I have a lot more pain free days,” she said.
Nadine Lalonde, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, has lowered the amounts of meds she typically takes now that she’s enrolled in the dance classes offered at CHIGAMIK Community Health Centre.
“I am out of bed in the morning without wincing,” she said. “Freedom from the drugs is freedom to live my life the way I want to.”
Joseph DeSouza, a neuroscientist from York University in Toronto, is responsible for studying the impact of the classes. He’s theorized that since the motor system is fully engage on learning choreography on hand, it may be “distracting” patients’ brains enough to reduce their discomfort. DeSouza has studied the effects of dance therapy before, observing its influence on anxiety and Parkinson’s disease.
Dance uses vision, hearing and touch: “It’s fully engaging, so at that point any pain signals they have,” De Souza said, “they may be distracted from.”
He will study his hypothesis with more tests on people like Cleaver and Lalonde; he’s also looking into neurotransmitter dopamine and its role in pain reduction through dance therapy.